What’s Your Story?

NoLongerAnOption_250Waaaay back, in like 1987, I interviewed with the Vice President at a large pharmaceutical company for an Executive Secretary position. One of the questions she asked me was, “Where do you want to be in 5 – 10 years? What do you want to do?” My response was “I want to start my own desktop publishing company.”

The years went by and I steadily moved up the ladder at the company with ever increasing levels of responsibility and pay. It was a good company, a good organization. I enjoyed my work.

During these years, I collected books on freelancing, desktop publishing, working alone, and working part-time, and telecommuting was coming into play more and more in the business world.

Soon the company started going to its yearly rounds of layoffs. The workload increased beyond the already heavy 50 – 60 hours per week. Choosing my work as a priority and working a consistent 70 – 80 hours per week, I soon became ill and found I needed to make myself first focus.

As I started to learn to put myself first, I learned what I knew I had always known: that according to the organization, it was only the company and its goals that mattered to them. I was going to have to decide whether or not I could stay, physically and mentally, with the company.

As luck would have it, another organizational change left me with a supervisor that was a data-person, not a people-person. She did not understand me or what I did.

I was a classic over-achiever and had won awards, “consistently superior” performance gradings, etc., throughout my time with the company. Being saddled with the wrong supervisor was frustrating and degrading.

One day, a huge snow storm left me stranded at home, unable to get my car out of the mound of snow the plows had buried me under. I missed a training course at work that morning, something that I had very much wanted to do. By the time I got to work, I found myself in my supervisor’s office being yelled at for missing the training.

Yes… being.yelled.at.

And as if being yelled at was not humiliating enough, we all had cubicles. Which meant EVERYONE heard my supervisor yelling at me.

While I was looking at my supervisor, stunned (and probably like she had two heads), a bright light appeared above her head, a voice appeared and I heard, “You don’t belong here anymore.” Weird, right? I agree. I get chills just remembering.

It was at that point that I knew I was leaving. That it absolutely was the right thing to do. I made my plan, left the company, and never looked back.

One month after leaving, I started my desktop publishing business. It has evolved and grown with the internet into the business I’m very happy with today. Fifteen years later, I’m still my own boss and I love helping my clients make their own businesses work and freeing them up to do their genius work. Everyone is happy. That’s the way it should be.

Sometimes we have to listen to ourselves. Sometimes we get a little outside intervention to help us decide what our next step is.

How about you? Do you have a story? Go to my Comments section and leave a little blurb (or send me an email if you’d like to share it privately) – I’d love to hear how you all got started. And if you haven’t gotten started yet, I’m sending you your own little voice and light to help lead the way.


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Janice Wlodarski is a Business Support Specialist and certified Master Virtual Assistant with a BSBA/Finance from Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL. She has over 25 years of business training, skills, and experience. Areas of expertise include web presence development, communications, and document layout and design. Inspired Design (formerly Progressive Publishing Services) has been providing entrepreneurs and businesses high quality, professional business support since 1999. Jan can be reached at greatresults@inspireddesignbusiness.com or via your very own complimentary Business Development Assessment Call.



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  1. I loved this post Jan!
    Getting to hear a bit more about your story was wonderful and I really like how you tied your own experience into helping the rest of us find our way.

  2. Thanks for sharing that story Jan. I’ve been in similar positions. Good for me I’m an independent contractor now. So every time I get disrespected in a non acceptable way, I just leave. But still, can’t wait the moment to work full time from my home! Good you worked your path and can help others in similar situations providing support with your business.

    • Jan Wlodarski says:

      Independent contractor status is great. You’ll be working from home in no time… Thanks so much for sharing, Maribel! :)

    • I got yelled at one time, and I remember the same thing…we were in cubicles, but luckily everybody knew she was a major B*. I defended myself well, but it was as if I was this naughty little child, and I was about 30 at the time. Insane. Thank you for sharing more of YOU. We always love that :-)

  3. Loved hearing your story! So glad you found your path to your business. I have heard so many good things about your work. :)

  4. I’ve had los of “jobs”. None panned out well for me. I’ve either been all in and felt taken advantage of, or struggled with taking orders :). Thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s inspiring and it’s awesome to get to know you better. Looking forward to the moment, too, when I will hire you ;)

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